Minister confirms that Boris was wrong – the Government is planning for Brexit with no deal

The Government is undertaking contingency planning for a Brexit with no deal, a Government Minister has confirmed, contradicting Boris Johnson’s claim that “there is no plan for no deal.”

Steve Baker, a minister at the Department for Exiting the European Union, says in a letter to Open Britain supporter Chuka Umunna MP that “any responsible government would prepare for a range of possible outcomes from the negotiation, and this is what we are doing…This will ensure that departments are prepared both for a negotiated settlement but also for the unlikely scenario in which no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached.” 

It comes after confusion arose in Government over whether or not contingency planning for Brexit with no deal would take place. Boris Johnson said in the House of Commons on July 11th that “there is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.” This contradicted previous assurances by Brexit Secretary David Davis. Chuka Umunna wrote to the Prime Minister on July 11th seeking clarification about the Government’s position.

Steve Baker’s response proves that the Government is undertaking no-deal contingency planning, and that therefore Boris Johnson was not telling the truth in his remarks in the House of Commons.

Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said: 

“It seems that Boris’ claim that the Government has no plans for a Brexit with no deal was – to use a word he would understand – codswallop.

“This is just another example of Ministers contradicting each other over vital details of our exit from the European Union. When the Foreign Secretary apparently has no idea what the Brexit Department is doing, how can we expect him to be capable of negotiating for Britain on the world stage?

“The Foreign Secretary needs to make clear to MPs that his statement on 11th July was incorrect. Instead, he and David Davis should be open with Parliament and the public about what their plan for a no-deal Brexit is, and what they think it would cost the British economy in lower trade and fewer jobs.”

/ends

Notes to editors:

The confusion over the status of Government contingency planning over Brexit erupted on 11th July 2017, when Boris Johnson said in the House of Commons that “there is no plan for no deal because we are going to get a great deal.”

This contradicted previous assurances by Brexit Secretary David Davis that “we have been planning for the contingencies, all the various outcomes, all the possible outcomes of the negotiation.”

In his letter to Chuka Umunna, Steve Baker MP writes: 

“In relation to a ‘no-deal’ scenario, any responsible government would prepare for a range of possible outcomes from the negotiation, and this is what we are doing. The Department for Exiting the EU is working with every department and building a detailed understanding of how withdrawal affects domestic policies. This will ensure that departments are prepared both for a negotiated settlement but also for the unlikely scenario in which no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached.”

The full letter can be seen here: http://openbrita.in/vGNhZm 

Chuka Umunna’s original letter to the Prime Minister is below:

Dear Prime Minister,

You and your Ministers have repeatedly said in reference to leaving the European Union that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain.” But today in the House of Commons, the Foreign Secretary stated that the Government has “no plan for no deal.” This admission would be shocking in its own right, as such a serious possible scenario requires detailed contingency planning by the Government.

However, the Foreign Secretary’s admission also directly contradicts previous statements made by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, David Davis. In March, Mr Davis clearly stated that officials had put together contingency plans for a no-deal outcome. He even added that the Cabinet had been briefed on these plans. To add to the confusion, the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU’s former Chief of Staff, James Chapman, has today labelled the Foreign Secretary’s claim of there being “no plan for no deal” as “factually incorrect”. 

These directly contradictory statements emanating from senior members of Cabinet expose a worrying level of confusion within your Government regarding the possible outcomes of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. Either the Government has conducted contingency plans regarding a possible ‘no-deal’ scenario, or it has not. Both cannot be true. Today’s events raise a number of urgent questions that must be answered:

  • Has the Government conducted detailed contingency planning on the possibility of a ‘no-deal’ scenario, or has it not?
  • If the answer is yes, then what is the substance of these contingency plans, and will the Government commit to publishing these plans in detail so Parliament and the public can debate and scrutinise them?  If the answer is no, how can the Government explain such a shocking lack of future planning?
  • How does the Government expect to conduct negotiations with the European Union when even its own Ministers do not seem to know what if any contingency planning has taken place?

As has been repeatedly demonstrated by numerous business groups, employee groups, experts and studies, a ‘no-deal’ scenario would be a disaster for Britain. The impact on the British economy, on British jobs, on standards of living for British citizens and on the rights of Britons living in the EU would be devastating. The Government must abandon its pretence that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal’, when we all know that no deal would be the worst of all possible outcomes. Voters will be shocked to learn of the possibility that the Government still has not conducted contingency planning for such a scenario.  If it transpires that the Foreign Secretary’s statement today was incorrect, it exposes a Government that is approaching the most important negotiations for generations in a state of total confusion.

I await your response to these questions with interest.

Yours sincerely,

Chuka Umunna MP